Jeff Immelt rules himself out of Uber CEO search

Ride-hailing company keen to find leader to replace Travis Kalanick in the coming days

Jeff Immelt who tweeted on Sunday that he had decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber, despite his “immense respect” for the company and its founders. Photograph: Daniel Becerril/Reuters

Jeff Immelt who tweeted on Sunday that he had decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber, despite his “immense respect” for the company and its founders. Photograph: Daniel Becerril/Reuters

 

Jeff Immelt, the former General Electric chief executive, has taken himself out of the running for the top job at Uber, as the ride-hailing company tries to find a leader to replace Travis Kalanick in the coming days.

Mr Immelt tweeted on Sunday that he had decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber, despite his “immense respect” for the company and its founders. Uber did not respond to a request for comment. 

Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive, is still being considered, according to people familiar with the matter, despite her earlier public statements that she would not be Uber’s next chief executive. She tweeted at the end of July that: “The next Uber CEO will not be Meg Whitman.” 

Mr Immelt, who stepped down from GE earlier this year, had been seen as one of the strongest candidates for a role that has proven hard to fill amid disputes between investors and former chief executive Mr Kalanick. 

Despite these deep fractures, one of which is the subject of a lawsuit, all sides have agreed on the importance of appointing a new chief executive as soon as possible. The board has been looking for candidates who fit the requirements for being more conventional corporate leaders - while still encouraging Uber to innovate. 

Uber has been run by a committee of 14 senior executives since Mr Kalanick’s departure in June. Mr Kalanick resigned after a series of scandals including a report exposing sexual harassment at the company. Several other senior leaders have also left in recent months. 

Revenues surging

Uber’s crises have failed to knock the company’s business off course, with revenues surging in the second quarter. Gross bookings doubled year-on-year to $8.7bn, resulting in adjusted net revenue for Uber of $1.75bn, the company said this week. 

But the ride-hailing company has crafted a share sale plan to prop up its valuation, which is the largest for a private company in Silicon Valley. It is planning a new funding round where investors would buy in at the $68bn valuation but would also buy some stock at a lower price, according to two people familiar with the deal. 

The incoming chief executive will have to find a way to balance a transformation of the company’s culture with Mr Kalanick’s continued presence. The co-founder has made it clear that he wants to continue to be involved with the company. He retains a seat on the board and is battling with venture capitalist investor Benchmark Capital to keep the rights to appoint two more board members.

-(Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)